Background: Niigata City is located 300km north of Tokyo facing the Sea of Japan coast, and, with its many prosperous agricultural and fishing enterprises, is one of the foremost rural-type cities in Japan.
With a population of 800,000, much of Niigata City is composed of wetlands that sit below sea level, giving it a long history of suffering and struggling with the elements of water and earth.
Touzaburo Sano (1923-1994), worked to transform numerous mud paddy fields, where the mud was waist deep, into more productive rice fields, thereby solidifying Japan's food production foundation, and building future-oriented awareness. In addition, Sano also worked hard to improve farm production in China, where he played a large role in developing the San Jiang plain at the request of the Chinese government. The award is named after him, representing all those who worked to turn Niigata into a land of plenty.
Food & Life is the theme for the prize period (2009-2010).
"There are countless people residing across the globe who find their health and even their lives in peril because they are unable to secure enough food for themselves and the food they do have is non-nutritious, or even dangerous. We seek to honor those who are facing this reality, and saving lives, improving livelihoods, and restoring dignity in the field of food."